By the way, I have Zot! for sale at my store.

§ March 8th, 2023 § Filed under indies § 34 Comments

Thom H. asked, way back when last week

“These early ’80s indie superheroes happened just before I came to comics. I’ve always been curious about them, but a little daunted by all the starts and stops, changes of publishers, etc. Which would be the best/easiest one to hunt down all these years later: Zot!, Nexus, or Badger?”

Well, the easiest would be Zot! if only because 1) it’s just 36 issues (not counting the Matt Feazell one-offs), 2) it’s only from one publisher, and 3) I have 98% of the run currently available for sale at my store! And aside from this big unanswered question, it’s pretty much self-contained and comes to a reasonably satisfying conclusion. (Plus you can also read this webcomic for free, that takes place after the series.) They remain relatively inexpensive (especially the ones I’m selling!) and the trick is just tracking them all down (most of which are at my store, so that part is probably easy!).

After that, The Badger might be the next-easiest to figure out, as all you really need is the original series itself (issues #1-4 published by Capital Comics, #5-70 from First Comics) and the Hexbreaker graphic novel, which is actually sorta important to the character’s development. There were several Badger things published after this series ended, but it my opinion they weren’t…quite up to the level of the initial series. But the good news is that if you do want to collect them, the very nature of the Badger character and his stories means that you can pick ’em up and read ’em pretty much in any order without worrying about things like “continuity.”

Even the original series itself is of varying quality, with the better material in the first half or so of the run. It actually sort of peaked in the initial Capital run, but there’s still some good material in later issues.

And then there’s Nexus, which, like Badger, began at Capital and continued to First Comics, but it’s a little more complicated in that Nexus started with three magazine sized black and white issues, then continued as a color series with a new #1. That color series transitioned over to First Comics starting with issue #7 and then ran ’til issue #80. Mostly good, the best issues are the ones drawn by co-creator Steve Rude but many of the other artists that fill in for him are very good as well (with only a couple of clunkers). Paul Smith draws a few issues, and c’mon, you know that guy is good.

It’s after that run ends that the onslaught of minis and one-shots start, and honestly you’re gonna need a Wiki or an FAQ or something to get those straight. Or just look it up on to figure out when which series was released and figure out the story that way. There are a lot of these tie-ins, however, so be forewarned. (God Con, a two-parter from Dark Horse, may be my favorite of the bunch — self-contained, drawn by Rude, and pretty wild.)

• • •

Anyway, there are more questions and comments from you guys over the last week or so that I still want to address, but I’ve reached the end of my blogging time for the night so it’ll all have to wait. Thanks, as always, for reading and participating, pals.

34 Responses to “By the way, I have Zot! for sale at my store.”

  • D says:

    I’d go ahead and recommend almost everything First was publishing back in the early 80’s. It all holds up pretty well, has amazing art & isn’t too different from what Epic or Vertigo would be putting out a few years later. WARP, Mars & Dynamo Joe are easier to get into because they are shorter series. Jon Sable, American Flagg & of course Grimjack are classics. Plus E-Man!

  • Great post, Mike, just one question: do you have any Zot available at your store?

  • Cassandra Miller says:

    Do you, by any chance, have the Matt Feazel issues? Because I’m missing those…

    D–I actually had a letter (published under another name) in one of First’s Elric comics! I used to love those.

  • Daniel T says:

    Buy Zot! from Mike! I promise you will not regret it.

    Mike, did you like Badger: Shattered Mirror? That was the only post-First thing I read and I thought it was pretty good.

  • Daniel T says:

    Kept forgetting to ask this before, but do you have anything to say about the language changes made in the B&W collection?

  • Daniel T says:

    Of Zot!, that is–to be clear.

  • Daniel says:

    Nexus is the best, but, as Mike said, it’s extremely long and can be difficult to get into unless you go back to the beginning. But while the issues drawn by Steve Rude are amazing (watching him grow as an artist month to month in those early years is a glorious sight to behold), more and more of the later issues in the First Comics run are drawn by others who weren’t as good as Rude (or who would later become as good as Rude, but weren’t at the time they were drawing Nexus fill-ins). And for a visual medium like comics, that’s a turnoff for me. Also, some of Mike Baron’s right-wing views pop up now and then in the stories, so that may turn some people off.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Mike, as long as you are talking about Capital Comics characters who went on to First Comics, what about Whisper?

    And what about the great–if short-lived–Pacific Comics? Cool and fun content by Jack Kirby, Neal Adams (except for the goofy Skateman), Mike Grell, Dave Stevens, Steve Ditko,Bruce Jones, Richard Corban, Michael T. Gilbert, Sergio Aragonés, and others. And the coloring on Pacific Comics–by Steve Oliff–always made those comics pop! I would say Pacific Comics and Eclipse Comics–who took over publishing some of the Pacific Comics titles after Pacific Comics folded–were my two favorite Independent publishers of the ’80s.

  • Daniel T says:

    I think it’s obvious now that it’s time for Mike to do a Deep Dive™️ into 80s independent comics.

  • Wayne Allen Sallee says:

    Sean: I was ready to bring up Whisper. And if there was every a movie just waiting to be made, it is Skateman. Something no one wants to talk about, we’re all afraid to admit it would be awesome.

    ALL-AMERICAN COMICS here closed a year ago, the guy actually just plain retired, but it was the first specialty store in on the south side. Joe Sarno’s Nostalgia Shop paved the way here, but Carl Bonasera opened his place in 1979. It was incredible to see all the new titles like Pacific and magazines like Alter-Ego I had never heard of.

    I wrote a script for, um, Steamrock Johnny, because an artist friend of mine came up with the name and plot and Lenin Delsol, the artist on WARP, would do the interiors. The unwanted pages are likely still floating around Evanston like ghosts.

    And let me say to you all that Badger was great first and foremost because he was in Wisconsin. Not Illinois, but I’ll take it. There should be a Retro-Con where the cosplay is people wearing all these old costumes.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Wayne :

    Cool stories. Was Steamrock Johnny a detective character? You could always do a reboot as “Steampunk Johnny…”

    I forgot that Lenin Delsol also did some WARP artwork –I tend to associate him more with Starslayer, after Mike Grell stopped drawing it and before Tim Truman took over the art. I will say that early on Pacific, First and Eclipse seemed to be “the big three” of Independent publishers.

    You know, maybe a director like Paul Thomas Anderson could actually make an offbeat and intriguing period piece early ’80s Skateman film.

    But I’d rather get a Dreadstar, Starslayer,Aztec Ace, Coyote, DNAgents, Sabre, or Nexus movie or streaming series or how about Neal Adams’ Ms. Mystic –the Earth needs her now more than ever! And if James Gunn wasn’t aligned with DC at present, it could have been intriguing to see what kind of gonzo project he could have potentially done with Captain Victory, Silver Star or other “Kirbyverse” characters which later saw print with Topps Comics and Dynamite Comics.

    At least with the Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania film we got a sort of phantom residue of Eighties energy–what with the Quantum Realm itself (and many of its denizens) looking like something out of late ’70s/early ’80s psychedelic sci-fi Heavy Metal Magazine stories drawn by Moebius, Philippe Druillet, or Caza. And what with Jentorra (the niece of Jarella) and the Freedom Fighters (new characters created for the film) we got the closest we will probably ever get to something approximating The Micronauts in a live action film–since Hasbro holds the rights to The Micronauts, and Paramount will probably never get a film realized–and even if it did, it wouldn’t be like the original Marvel comic. But in the Quantumania movie Jentorra–though an actual Marvel Comics character–sort of seemed analogous to Rebellion leader Lady Slug and/or Mari; the telapath Quaz was analogous to Arcturus Rann and/or Time Traveller; the warrior character Xolum had some similarities to Acroyear, and I think Veb was meant as a substitute for Bug (although they are completely different characters– but both Veb and Bug serve as the comic relief element). And, of course, Kang served the double purpose of being both himself and serving as a stand-in for Baron Karza. But I do feel that MODOK was wasted in the film…

    Daniel T:

    I second the motion for Mike to do a Deep Dive™️ into ’80s independent comics…every Dalgoda must have its day!
    Also, some documentary filmmaker should really do a project on the rise of the Direct Market and ’80s independent comics–interview as many creators, publishers, and old school comic shop owners as possible to preserve a record of that Brave New World era. Similar to the folks that are trying to do a Charlton Comics documentary.

  • Wayne Allen Sallee says:

    Sean and Daniel T.: DALGODA from LAD: A DOG, every other month on FAMILY CLASSICS. Kind of a grim film. Puppies burn to death.

    MS. MYSTIC and SKATEMAN got married and were stars on Earth-Adams. Delsol moved from Chicago and the other artist–still working, but I’m not going to name him–had me come up with a pirate tale called THE MAROONERS which kinda almost was ICE PIRATES, only I used the Flying Dutchman. Then the artist ditched because he got a gig at Franklin Mint painting commemorative plates. Follow the money is fine, but then I did a script for a Frankenstein/Hitler story for Moonstone called “Every Knee Shall Bow” and the same same. The other artists I knew at the time worked at ad agencies. I met Alex Ross just before MARVELS came out, and Gene Ha! doesn’t live too far away. If Chicago shrunk, maybe my stories would have seen print, there is still a lot of artists here, though some of them did weird things like get married and have kids.

    Daniel T: I’d love to see a documentary of any sort involving comics from the 60s thru the 80s. The 70s would be perfect. Marvel’s horror comics and DC getting rid of krptonite and any comic by O’Neil and Adams. The Implosion.

    Second would have to be, as you said, the direct market independents. So many great books. My favorite was TWISTED TALES by Bruce Jones.

  • ExistentialMan says:

    Twisted Tales and Alien Worlds (especially those gorgeous Dave Stevens covers) were some of the best anthology comics of the 80’s. Scott Hampton’s adaptation of REH’s Pigeons from Hell is the scariest damn comic I’ve ever read.

  • Wayne Allen Sallee says:

    ExistentialMan: Alien Worlds, yes! And I have the four issue Wally Wood mini from Eclipse. I knew a guy at a print shop and he straight-edged all four into one.

    My scariest comic from a mini or anthology is “The Cosmic All” by Wally Wood, it appeared first in CREEPY or, more likely, EERIE.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Yes, Twisted Tales and Alien Worlds were both great. I give Bruce Jones–and April Campbell and Brent Anderson– props as well for Somerset Holmes. And Pacific Comics really put Dave Stevens and The Rocketeer on the map!

    As to the World of Wood mini-series reprinting Wally Wood’s Warren work–it was great to see a lot of that stuff in color and inspiring to see Dave Stevens inking the late, great Wally Wood’s pencils on the cover to issue 1, and then Stevens doing a magnificent cover sans Wood for issue 2.

    Between Pacific Comics and Eclipse Comics there really were some nice full color reprints of Bernie Wrightson, Jim Starlin, Jeff Jones, Ralph Reese, and Frank Brunner’s works! Another enjoyable Pacific Comics publication was Gray Morrow’s three issue mini-series Edge of Chaos. Roger McKenzie and Pat Broderick’s Sunrunners–which started at Pacific, went to Eclipse, then went on to be published by Sirius/Amazing Comics as Tales of the Sunrunners for a handful of issues– was fun as well.

    I should also add Comico to Pacific, Eclipse, and First as a fourth great Independent publisher–especially when Matt Wagner’s Grendel, and Mage, and Bill Willingham’s Elementals first got released. I always thought it was pronounced:”Comic-O”–like it’s supposed to be an abbreviation for “comic company” –but recently I have heard comics Youtubers refer to it as: “Ko-Mee-Ko” –so, who knows?

  • Snark Shark says:

    “Dynamo Joe”

    that one was OK! Certainly affordable if you can find them.

    “Pacific Comics? Cool and fun content by Jack Kirby”

    I hate to say it about Kirby, but Captain Victory did NOTHING for me. It was just a lesser version of stuff he’d already done before, and better. (Kamandi/New Gods etc).


    Was all-right, but the BEST thing that title did was introduce Grimjack!

    “the Freedom Fighters”

    Were they unaware of Quality/DC’s Freedom Fighters? You’d think someone would have checked.

    “Twisted Tales and Alien Worlds”

    Ohhhhhhhhhhh those were very good!


    I always pronounced it COMIC-CO.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Snark Shark:

    Yeah, I think COMIC-CO. or Comic-O makes the most sense for the pronunciation.

    Re: “Freedom Fighters” I think the Quantum Realm characters are just generically being called that in the film (don’t know why they didn’t just call them the Quantumnauts/Enigma Force–and I guess Arcturus Rann and Bug were off the table and couldn’t be in the movie because those two characters evolved from/were loosely based on the Space Glider and Galactic Warrior MIcronauts toys.)…as in they are freedom fighters against the tyrant Kang–but not “The Freedom Fighters” — but Gunn should jump on that i.p. and greenlight an Elseworlds streaming series based on those Quality Comics characters and the old Len Wein and recent Grant Morrison and Robert Venditti scripted Freedom Fighters stories where the Allies lost WW II and the Freedom Fighters are the underground resistance. It could be similar in style to Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle but with superheroes. And back in the 1940s Quality Comics had quite a few superheroes who were never used in The Freedom Fighters–such as Neon the Unknown, Magno, The Blue Tracer, Invisible Hood, The Spider Widow and Raven, Wildfire–or maybe a few showed up in All-Star Squadron once or twice; but with so many surplus characters, various ones could be killed off during the series, or a few could end up being spies for the Axis. I realize the CW did a “Crisis on Earth-X” story arc a few years back, but with a decent budget for a Netflix series this could be really cool.

    Re: Captain Victory. Well, by this time Jack had moved on to doing animation. I can agree with you that the Captain Victory scripts weren’t Jack’s high point (remember the Goozlebobber???) but I dug the art and imagination–and the weird cast of the Galaxy Rangers–like Egghead…who seemed a bit like a MODOK retread in terms of character design. Also, the fact that Captain Victory had cloned bodies just waiting for his consciousness to be uploaded into every time his current body died in battle. And it was heavily implied that Captain Victory was a future descendant of Orion from the New Gods (even though DC owned that character). Plus, historically, thanks to Pacific Comics Kirby finally owned some of his own creations!

    Re: Starslayer–the first six issues at Pacific Comics with Mike Grell on both story and art were solid–plus The Rocketeer debuted in the back of issue 2. When Ostrander/Truman took over on the First Comics run, the tone shifted…it still had some charm, but at that point you are right that Grimjack was the best thing that happened in that comic.

  • Wayne Allen Sallee says:

    Sean: re Comico, can’t forget THE ELEMENTALS. Dave Stevens’s wife Brinke was at a recent convention,pre-plague, and was nice enough to showcase her late husband’s art and tell anecdotes. NOW was here in Chicago, at the comic shop we sold Green Hornet and Speed Racer like crazy, and we even had subscribers for the two-issue Bats & Cats & Cadillacs.

    We should do a book where we all write a chapter and Mike edits it and sells it with 15 variants, all by Mike, and he will sell it exclusively at his store (and by mail) for $75.00. Or best offer.

  • Cassandra Miller says:

    God, those years in the 1980s sure were a time…I recently (last year) uncovered some old obscure parody comics from then, “ElfTrek” and “Secret Doors,” and just had a blast reading ’em. Some of the jokes are seriously dated/would be impossible for anyone under 48 or so to get, the art is a bit crude, but they were just plain fun. The absolute freedom in so many of those b&w boom comics was so incredible.

  • Sean Mageean says:


    A book about the history of independent comics in the late ’70s – early ’80s or what? If you can stomach bad puns it could be called: “Declaration of Independents” —or: “Not All in Color Not For a Dime.”


    Yes, the absolute freedom in b&w boom comics was incredible. It’s always interesting when Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg take a look at obscure ’80s b&w “outlaw comics” on Cartoonist Kayfabe as well.

  • Wayne Allen Sallee says:

    Sean: NOT ALL IN COLOR NOT FOR A DIME really isn’t that bad a tittle. Nice homage.The column at the right of the cover could reflect the price changes, StILL ONLY 20 cents, 25 cents, BIGGER & BETTER, etc.I bet it would fill top to bottom. I guess I’m not aware of independents from the 70s because there was literally no store to go to until 1980. A friend of mine did work for CALIBER, I did some work for BONEYARD PRESS, Mike has a BP comic or two that I think/I hope he uses to cover holes in the wall.

    Even though BP wasn’t great, they were outlaws, as Cassandra mentioned. They did that comic DAHMER.I don’t know if the b&w TMNT wannabes need more than a page, though the guy who owned our comic shop was part of Mildly-Microwaved Adolescent Rodents Or Something Close.

  • Sean Mageean says:


    Probably the best place to start would be with Wally Wood and Witzend Magazine in 1966. As far as I know, he’s the Godfather of independent comics…although I’m sure there must have been others before him…like Will Eisner owning The Spirit and licensing it to various publishers, of Jim Warren creating Eerie, Creepy, Vampirella, etc. Then there’s the impact of Robert Crumb and the Zap Comix crew in 1968, and Gothic Blimp Works from 1969 …and Jaxon’s God Nose…which actually got published back in 1964–which lead to the thriving Underground Comix scene of the late ’60s through late ’70s. But beyond Witzend, I think the next main independent-but-not-underground comic magazine which was a harbinger of things to come is Archie Goodwin and Gil Kane’s His Name is…Savage from 1968. Then Jack Katz’s First Kingdom from 1974. Then, maybe Captain Canuck in 1975. Then, of course, there’s Heavy Metal Magazine, and Dave Sim’s Cerebus , both in 1977, McGregor and Gulacy’s Sabre in 1978, and Wendy and Richard Pini’s Elfquest in 1978 (no doubt itself somewhat inspired by Wally Wood’s independently published Wizard King from the same era) opened the floodgates. There’s probably other proto-independent stuff that came out before 1978 that I’m not aware of but that’s a link in the chain that Mike would know more about. It’s just too bad Wally Wood couldn’t live long enough to see independent comics become validated and reap some of the rewards for what he spearheaded.

  • Donald G says:

    Re: the pronunciation of Comico

    William Messner-Loebs, who wrote Comico’s JONNY QUEST adaptation back in the eighties, pronounces the company name “koh-MEE-koh.”

    While a lot of YouTube video essayists have some idiosyncratic pronunciation quirks when it comes to common, everyday English words and proper names, “koh-MEE-koh” is not a YouTube invention.

  • Wayne Allen Sallee says:

    Donald G: you’re right. I didn’t catch the pronunciation situation above. Just as you typed, I recall the guy who owned that store I went to from 1980 on tell everyone who asked do almost the same. ko-ME-ko. We had a strip in our alternative weekly, THE READER, with Lynda Barry doing “Ernie Pook’s Co-meek”.

    SEAN: Probably start with HIS NAME IS… SAVAGE because underground gets a different book. Was it Gulacy who worked with McGregor on DETECTIVES, INC.? I wish that had gone further along.

  • Sean Mageean says:


    The first Detectives, Inc. story was by McGregor and the late, great Marshall Rogers–it was a graphic novel called Detectives Inc.: A Remembrance of Threatening Green–later reprinted as a two issue mini-series in full color by Eclipse Comics. There was a follow up three issue mini-series by McGregor and the late, great Gene Colan– called Detectives Inc.: A Terror Of Dying Dreams –which was printed from his pencil art sans inking (like Nathaniel Dusk was), which is also worth picking up if you never read it!

    I’d start with Wally Wood’s Witzend –as it predates His Name Is…Savage –and even if it was an anthology, it did feature early independent works by Wood (Ani-Man, and Bucky Ruckus, Pipsqueak Papers ), Ditko (Mr. A), and also contributions from fellow legends including Frazetta, Kirby Gil Kane, Al Williamson, and Reed Crandall.

    Re: “koh-MEE-koh” –I’ll accept it– but in my mind I will always think of it as “Comic-o.”

  • Mikester says:

    I always pronounced it “co-MEE-ko” — LET THE DEBATE RAGE ON

  • Wayne Allen Sallee says:

    Sean: true. Witzend because of multiple characters. Makes sense. Check with Mik, he’s editing this book, after all. Man, I completely forgot Remembrance of Threatening Green. Very similar to titles he had in Jungle Action. And then you get CRY HAVOK! for the 15th time at Marvel of A HERO FALLS at DC. Or CRY MULLET!

    I’ll add one thing re Comico, and I don’t want it to sound wrong. When I was told the pronunciation, I thought it sounded Japanese, though I had barely known manga. Stupid as it sounds, I just thought, oh cool,and that was it. Ernie Pook’s Co-meek was in my future and I supposed that might have helped me not think dumb.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    An article from 1982 on the early days of Pacific Comics:

  • Snark Shark says:

    “superheroes who were never used in The Freedom Fighters–such as Neon the Unknown, Magno, The Blue Tracer, Invisible Hood, The Spider Widow and Raven, Wildfire”

    Lots of characters I’ve never heard of. Even in Golden Age Marvel, i’m finding many characters I’ve never heard of, and I’m more familiar with Marvel than DC. (Been reading a Golden Age reprint book). Funny how many characyters got 1 or 2 appearances- and that was IT.

    “Plus, historically, thanks to Pacific Comics Kirby finally owned some of his own creations!”

    that IS a good thing. Geezus, how much money are his DC/Marvel characters worth, that he didn’t get to own?

    “The Rocketeer debuted in the back of issue 2”

    That explains why I’ve never seen a copy of issue 2!

    “All In color…”

    All In Color For A Buck!

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Snark Shark:

    You are probably already aware of it, but if not, I recommend checking out Digital Comic Museum online to read public domain Golden Age comics for free.
    There is also Gwandanaland Comics –you can Google it–which reprints a lot of Golden Age public domain comics. What’s cool about Gwandanaland Comics is you can have things customized…a few years back I got the complete Comet stories by Jack Cole, the complete Web stories, and the complete Fox stories (all old MLJ/Archie Comics characters) through Gwandanaland Comics.

    As to some of those lesser known Quality Comics characters, a few of them were in All-Star Squadron no. 32-33. As to the Golden Age Wildfire, she’s a cool Good Girl art character who was drawn by Jim Mooney with flame based powers, kinda like the Human Torch, and her hair is a long flaming mane. Roy Thomas wanted to include her in All-Star Squadron, but it was nixed because there was already the Legion of Super-Heroes character called Wildfire (Drake Burroughs). So, instead, Roy came up with Firebrand II, Danette (named in homage to Roy’s wife) Reilly, the sister of Rod Reilly, the original Golden Age Firebrand from Quality Comics. I think Marv Wolfman might have drawn some inspiration from the Golden Age Wildfire when he created the New Teen Titans character Starfire.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “Golden Age Wildfire”, “Legion of Super-Heroes character called Wildfire”

    also the song, “Wildfire”!


    “I think Marv Wolfman might have drawn some inspiration from the Golden Age Wildfire when he created the New Teen Titans character Starfire.”

    Does sound like it!

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Snark Shark:

    Marv ran callin’ “Wiiiiiiiiiiiildfire!!!”

  • Snark Shark says: